Performance Food furloughs 3,000 employees as coronavirus takes toll

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FILE PHOTO: A sign hangs from empty shelves, prior to California’s Governor Gavin Newsom’s effective immediately statewide “stay at home order”, in the face of the fast-spreading pandemic coronavirus (COVID-19), Safeway supermarket in Napa, California, U.S. March 19, 2020. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

(Reuters) – Grocery distributor Performance Food Group Co (PFGC.N) said on Monday it had furloughed about 3,000 employees and cut pay, while funneling 1,100 workers to help keep its retail clients’ shelves stacked as it deals with the pressures exerted on supply chains and its business by the coronavirus crisis.

The company also said it was suspending share buybacks and cutting capital spending to ride out the crisis, pushing its shares 6% lower in early trade.

Performance Food Group has about 100 distribution centers across the country and caters to independent and chain restaurants, theaters, convenience stores as well as retailers.

Customers include Dollar Tree and Home Depot as well as theater chains AMC, Cinemark and Regal Cinemas, which have temporarily closed movie houses to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 disease caused by the virus.

The company said it deferred 25% of senior management’s base pay and the board’s fee through the year to protect its long-term financial position.

“There are other decisions that are difficult for any company to make, but necessary during challenging times,” Chief Executive Officer George Holm said in a statement.

The pandemic, which has left over 22,000 dead in the United States, has created panic among people as they rush to supermarkets to stock up on everyday essentials and canned foods as lockdowns were called in several states.

Reporting by Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel, Bernard Orr

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